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Teacher Caught On Video Telling Student Who Sat For Pledge Of Allegiance To ‘Go Back’ To Mexico

Photo: TikTok
Robert Reiber, tiktok video

A Florida teacher has been fired following a viral video that shows him berating a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The TikTok video, which was posted on September 21 and has amassed over 2.3 million views, showed the teacher standing directly behind a seated student as he verbally attacked him.

The Bradenton teacher made xenophobic comments to the student after he remained seating during the Pledge of Allegiance.

The teacher has been identified by multiple news outlets as Robert Reiber, an art teacher at Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida.

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The short clip, which was posted by another student in the class and captioned, "my friend didn't stand for the pledge and this is what the teacher said," shows Reiber talking harshly to the student who appears to be Latino.

"You are gonna sit there on your butt?" the teacher angrily asks the student. Reiber stands there and waits for a reaction while the student refused to respond, staring straight ahead and not making eye contact.

That only seemed to anger Reiber, who spoke up again, saying, "Don't shake your leg. If you want to do something, get up and do it. I will defend my country til the very end."

The student then quietly responded, "I won't hurt you."

The teacher then launched into a tirade of xenophobia, telling the student, "Then go back to your ... where are you from? Mexico or Guatemala? Where?"

"I was born here," the student replied.

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"You were born here? And you won't stand up for the flag?" the teacher said, throwing his hands in the air before the video ends.

In a statement to Newsweek, Mike Barber, the Communications Director for the Manatee County Schools District, confirmed that Reiber had been "removed from the school" the day the incident occurred and was no longer in contact with his students, but he was not fired.

"The school district's Office of Professional Standards is thoroughly investigating the incident in accordance with district and state due process policies and procedures," Barber told the publication, before sharing the student code regarding standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to Barber, the school district's 2022-2023 Code of Student Conduct references Section 1003.44 in the Florida Statutes education code, which "requires the Pledge of Allegiance be recited at the beginning of each school day."

Despite students at public schools and universities having a constitutional right to express "symbolic speech" by sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem, some states, including Florida, require students in public schools to be granted parental permission that excuses them from standing for the pledge, according to state law. 

"When the pledge is recited, students shall stand with the right hand over the heart," Barber said.

"With a written request by a student's parent or guardian, a student will be excused from reciting the pledge, including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart."

There have been previous incidents regarding students who refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

The most recent altercation happened in 2021 after two high schoolers from Oklahoma were arrested and suspended following a confrontation with their teacher when they refused to stand for the National Anthem during a pep rally.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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